(1) An integrated circuit that holds programs and data permanently. See storage chip and flash memory.
(2) An integrated circuit that holds programs and data temporarily. RAM chips are the computer's temporary workspace. Contrast with storage chip. See storage vs. memory, memory module, dynamic RAM, static RAM and memory types.
A Wafer Full of RAM Chips
The wafer is the structure all chips are fabricated on. Each rectangle on this wafer is a RAM chip, which is cut out and placed into an individual housing. (Image courtesy of Motorola, Inc.)
The 30 rectangles (enlarged at top) comprise a 4-gigabit RAM chip made by the Dataram Corporation. The chip is cut out of the wafer and placed into a BGA package. The wedding band is shown for size comparison.
Core Memory in the Mid-1960s
The young lady is stringing magnetic cores by hand for a Univac 494 computer. There is a thousand times more RAM in the average smartphone than in all the core memory in this picture. (Image courtesy of Hagley Museum and Library.)
Twelve Magnetic Cores
This shows 12 magnetic cores from the Whirlwind computer in the early 1950s. Each core held one bit. (Image courtesy of The MITRE Corporation Archives.)